Sunday, June 15, 2008

Linky Linky Spoiler time

Interesting. I got into comics after Spoiler 'died'. I have never been a Batman fan, in fact I think Batman sucks. Recently I've come round to thinking that his supporting cast are awesome, but he still sucks. Unless he's in a group book, like Superman/Batman, JLA or Trinity. But for a long time I thought Batman and his family were utter rubbish. I had zero interest in reading about him. And even thinking that, when I saw a Batman comic in the library, with a female Robin, I was really really impressed. Because to me, it means that women aren't sidelined. It means we are not treated as the (inferior) 'other' and we are as good as and can achieve those roles traditionally reserved for men. That is important. It means a breakdown of elitest patriarchal ways of thinking.

I don't hold that female versions of male heroes are automatically second rate rip offs, as some of my (non comics reading) friends think Supergirl is. (Unless you've got a Supergirl who can't fly, can only take large leaps, and isn't as strong as Superman, then they're a second rate rip off and I have no interest in reading about them). Female versions of male characters are characters in their own right.

So, back to Spoiler and the female Robin. I think having a female Robin is especially important because, whether I like him or not, Batman is one of the premier superheroes. And for him to have a female sidekick speaks volumes. I don't mean to say that what I aspire to do is to be able to break into the boys club, to be treated as an honourary man, because I think that the frame of thought where men are the pinnacle of all expertise and the ultimate-best-thing-ever is wrong. I don't want to prove that I'm as good as a man, although for a long time whilst growing up I did want to do that, because that frame of thought assumes that men are better than women, and that we should treat the two sexes differently, because they are inherently different. And I think that's a flawed way of thinking.

This isn't about having female role models. I don't need women to be my role models. Growing up, I wanted to be Spiderman and Superman. Their sex didn't come into it, I just wanted to be them. They were the awesomest characters ever. I didn't feel the need to have a female superhero to look up to, but I recognise that other women do want female role models.

I think what I'm trying to say is that it's important that women are visible in traditionally male arenas. Whether that be in the engineering industry, the chef-ing industry, goverment or the superhero arena. If we didn't have a female Robin, or a female Superman, or a female Batman, or a Wonder Woman, or a female Question, or a Buffy, or a Power Girl or female Speedy, or Lady Flash, think how bad that would be. For women to be always excluded from this area. For women to not be allowed to take part, to not be good enough, to hero. To ensure that this doesn't happen, women have to be 'allowed', at leats initially, to take on a male role. Allowed is the wrong word. It assumes that those in power are trying to beat down on women, are being tokenistic about including women. I'm sure there are some who think like this, but I'm equally sure there are many many more who don't. Tokenism sucks. Tokensim is having one woman on an otherwise all male team, just to be polically correct and right on - I'm thinking Cheetara and Smurfette here.

The good thing about having female equivalents of (big name) male superheroes is that it (should) mean that they are in the big leagues. The danger of having brand new female superheroes is they could be seen as small time stuff and not taken seriously.

So as to the return of Spoiler, I say yay. I didn't buy the Robin issue where she returned, but I have the Robin/Spoiler special on order. When I can afford it I'll pick it up. But she still should have gotten a trophy case. And Tim should have insisted on one.

EDIT: This seems to be on similar lines to my post. A bit.

2nd EDIT: As always, other people's thoughts and comments are appreciated!

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